Freedom: Unleashed for a New Master (Animal Instinct Trilogy, Part 1)

Doorstep with a dog's leash next to a welcome mat

Patrick Henry had the right idea when he stood before the Virginia Convention and said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” He wanted freedom, but not just freedom from British rule. He wanted freedom to be an American, freedom for his countrymen to write their own history. He knew that living under British rule was not really living at all. The same was true for Coco…

[Note: This is Part 1 of a 3-part trilogy that includes some extraordinary but true animal stories and offers insight into some of our human tendencies, a.k.a., animal instincts.]

A true story about a dog named Coco

In January 2013, 4-year-old Coco, a gray and white poodle, entered the doors of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. His coat was so severely matted that he couldn’t lift his head. But even more shocking were 2 other problems:
  • A 6-foot long wire was wrapped around his entire body
  • His collar was embedded into his skin, including his name tag
He was brought immediately to the Society’s Angell Animal Medical Center. His collar and name tag wrapped around the bones of his neck. They were embedded so deeply that they could only be removed surgically.

Coco healed and recovered and was eventually put up for adoption, but before coming into the care of the animal medical center, he was on a path that would've eventually led to his death. Even when he was off leash, the brand of his owner was so deep that he could not escape its demise.

Coco could do nothing to improve his situation or to save himself. He needed help.

Like Coco, there was nothing we could do to save ourselves and to stand in the presence of God. We were dead in sin and separated from Him. It doesn’t matter how good we were.

Maybe we were really good. Friendly. Favored neighbors. Loving. Sacrificial. Humanitarian.

But even the best of people, with their noblest attempts to live rightly, remain sin-ridden and cannot enjoy a relationship with God.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

Isaiah 64:6

Coco was set free. His former master no longer held claim to him. He was to be adopted, tail wagging with the hope of new life and a new master – a compassionate master. He would live as a poodle was supposed to live.

After surgery, however, I’m sure he also felt a nagging reminder of his former adversity. Whenever he moved his body just so, the recesses that formerly wrapped around his collar and dog tag probably pinched or restricted him. He may have even missed the discomfort that he had grown used to as part of his everyday life.

How often do we reclaim the pain of our sinful past?
Do we long sometimes for the leash of our old master,
that unpleasant tugging that somehow used to comfort us?

Freedom can feel unsettling or foreign at times. Seeking God without keeping track of rights and wrongs just doesn’t feel right. But freedom is freedom. Our sin is no longer counted against us, so it doesn’t make sense that the deceptions of our former self beg us to pay for our freedom - to work for it.

God freely sacrificed His Son to cast away our sins, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Jesus fulfilled God’s law on our behalf, because we couldn’t do it ourselves. Let’s not put Him back on a figurative cross by attempting to repay Him for our salvation. He died once for our sins, and once is all it took (Hebrews 9:24-28). Let’s thank God and worship Him for freedom.

[Stop reading for a moment and worship Him with thanksgiving.]

Does it feel like we owe God a response to our freedom? I hope so. Because, as we consider our freedom, we should live accordingly. Having been released from the master of sin, we are free to live for God.

Patrick Henry longed for the “freedom to______.” We can fill in our own blanks because God gave us individual lives, but they should coincide with our freedom to serve Him.

Think about that for a moment…

Because God removed the chains that bound us to sin, we are set free to give back to Him. We are born into a new family and a new life, and we have the privilege to bear God’s family name with honor. (See Romans 6:6-11ff and 1 John 2:3-6.)

We are free!  No longer compelled to conform to the world. We are not bound to religious laws and traditions. The shackles are loosed. The bars no longer contain us.

What will we do with our freedom to live for God?

I close with a poem:

A Sinner’s Freedom

Give me liberty.
Release the collar and tag of sin’s ownership
that is embedded deep beneath my skin.
When I long for freedom, I am powerless.
I am without hope.

I am compelled to be like the world.
I wish to gratify myself,
to elevate myself and look above those who are near me.
I wallow in the sty of wickedness and it feels so natural.

I don’t even know why.  I don’t even know I do it.

Reach down, O God,
and deliver me from the grip of sin.
Clothe me in my Savior’s righteousness.
Free me from my filthy rags.

Adorn my garments with purity,
so that I may enjoy your presence
and you may enjoy mine.

This was Part 1 of Animal Instincts Trilogy.
Read Part 2 and Part 3, and more blog posts here.

Read more about God's gift of salvation here or, if you have questions about Jesus' sacrifice and our freedom, email me at

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


  1. This post is so powerful. I love when every day events illustrate the gospel and point to Jesus like that. The part that really hit me was where you said "Seeking God without keeping track of rights and wrongs just doesn't feel right. But freedom is freedom."

    1. Hi Jennifer. I thank God that Coco's experience is so relatable for us because it's not always easy to understand sin and it's effects on us. He was freed to enjoy life with a new, loving master. Praise God for His love and care for us.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you for reading and God bless you. God set us free from sin and we can serve Him with gratitude.


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